Зображення сторінки

does not commend itself to the deliberate judgment of your Lordships. Here the speaker paused; the prisoner felt that it was all over with him; but Pittendreich rubbed his hands and chuckled. He knew what was coming. But,' continued his Lordship, we are unanimously of opinion that the words “ in the county of Aberhaddy” is a fatal misdescription. It appears to us that the flaw-'

• 'Deed, my Lord, that's gude law,' exclaimed Corbie, unable any longer to restrain himself. He had that morning, as well as the night before, been revisiting with some old cronies a certain wellknown tavern in the Advocates Close.

The interruption caused a general burst of laughter, and the noise made by the macers in their efforts to restore silence prevented the audience from becoming acquainted with what remained of his Lordship’s opinion—which came indeed to a speedy conclusion. The jury were discharged; the witnesses were liberated; and Harry Hacket had saved his neck.


So Uncle Ned died: and sooner or later—it is but a question of sooner or later with us all—the other members of the secluded society on that weather-beaten coast, who were so bright and cheery in the year One, were laid out of the way of the east wind. Captain Knock, Liar' Corbie, Doctor Caldcail, Miss Sherry, my friend Alister and his pretty wife Mistress Kate (for men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for-love ; and the blow to Alister, though stunning at the moment, was not fatal) have finished each of them his or her bit of work in a world where there are always plenty of fresh hands. Pitblethers, and Kilreekie, and Fozie, have ceased to be a terror to evil doers, and a praise and protection to those that do well ; and their places are occupied by the men of a new world, who have forgotten the tongue of their grandfathers, and speak that astonishing English of the Scotch bar which has so often perplexed an amazed legislature.

Eppie came of a long-lived house; and I can still recall the bright-eyed old lady, in her black silk gown and wonderful white hair, who occupied the many-gabled house among the moors when I was a boy. In my time she was Lady of Yokieshill; and only a confused tradition of Harry Hacket's misdoings survived. For the popular feeling against the man who had dealt that savage blow at Uncle Ned was too bitter to permit him to return, and he went abroad. Eppie did not accompany him. She had fought his battle obstinately so long as his life was in peril; but after the trial she came back to Peelboro', and lived in close retirement under Miss Sherry's hospitable roof. She sent Cousin Kate on her marriage

in the Holdfast family since Marie Touchet's time (the initials M. S. and the Scottish lion being faintly engraved on the inner shield), but she was not at the wedding. She and Alister never met. Then some arrangements had to be made about the property, which continued to be managed, or mismanaged, by our friend Corbie; and then Harry died, and it was found that Eppie Holdfast had, under her husband's settlements, the sole interest in Yokieshill. Inquiries were instituted on her behalf by the Maryland authorities; but if Elspeth Cheyne left any issue, no trace of them was recovered. So she reached the goal of her ambition ; Eppie Holdfast was Mistress of Yokieshill.3

I do not know that she was unhappy. She looked keen and bright, and active and healthy to the end. She was very good to her poor cottars, very kind to children and beggars and wayfarers. Her hair, it was said, had turned grey in a single night; but it had needed more, I daresay, than the mad misery of an hour to humble the pride of her heart, and soften the hardness of her ambition. No-she was not unhappy. She had contrived to live down (and it is done somehow) the exquisite bliss and the exquisite torture she had tasted in the Year One.

And Dick?

Mr. Richard Holdfast, tacksman of Fontainbleau, was in the '43 (Scotsmen in this century talk of going out in the '43 as in the last century they talked of being out in the '45) a staid and steady old gentleman. He was a ruling elder of the Kirk; a J. P. for the county of Aberhaddy; and the scourge of all the poachers, paupers, tramps, sorners, tinkers, and gipsies who harboured in the neighbourhood of - Hell's Lum.'


3 The rumours as to a defect in the title to Yokieshill were not easily silenced, and long continued current about the country-side-being discussed for half a century at kirk and market, at farmers' ordinaries and Presbytery dinners. I remember being told when a lad, by the last Dr. Caldcail of my acquaintance, that, if justice were done and everyone had his own, a lively old lady, who lived in the neighbourhood and was very intimate with Mrs. Hacket, would be owner of Yokieshill. But by the middle of the century these rumours had pretty well died out, being moreover, strange to say, openly discouraged and resented by the old lady herself-who in the year One must have been a mere girl, not much over twelve years of age, I should fancy.




[ocr errors]

URING an autumnal visit last year to the New England States,

agriculture caused by Western competition. I believed that I might find in these some lessons for English agriculture. The New England States have been feeling this competition for forty years. It has been increasing in severity as railroads improved, so that the last ten years have worked great changes. From 1868 to 1878 the value of farms in Vermont, and even in a middle state like New York, has decreased from thirty to fifty per cent., though the rise in the price of produce since last autumn has improved the value in a marked degree; while other conditions, to which I shall afterwards refer, are likely to continue this improvement.

The New England States were undoubtedly not the best adapted for the study of an agricultural question, for, with the exception of Vermont, they are not prominent in agriculture. The habits of landowners and farmers are not suited to a steady attention to farming operations. The farmers of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and in part of Connecticut, live half the year on the sea-coast, and the other half on their farms. The farms mainly belong to those who cultivate them. In Massachusetts there are 44,594 farms, and of these only 1,054 are held in rental, while 43,495 are farmed by their owners. Until Western competition became keenly felt, these farms were worked by the labour of the farmer and his sons, little labour being hired. More recently Irish and Canadian labourers have been employed. As the West opened, first by the Erie Canal, and afterwards by rail, the sons of farmers were tempted to migrate to the frontier. The home farms then became neglected, were mortgaged, and deteriorated in value. They are again improving, and hired labour is becoming common. The wages of labourers in the New England States is about a dollar, or four shillings a day.

For a long time the farmers continued to struggle with their old crops, believing that the cheap carriage of Western produce would become impossible, and that the rates of transport must advance. But this popular belief was a delusion. Railroads have been greatly improved by the substitution of steel for iron and of stone for wood: the freight cars increased from ten to fifteen tons on the same number of wheels and length of truck, and the cost of power to move the tonnage was largely economised. The rails were, therefore, enabled to compete at lower tariffs, and the products of Western farms, mines, and forests came into active competition with the Eastern States. The railroads are drying up the canals, and competing successfully

the northern part of Minnesota to the city of New York for 13d. a bushel, and from Chicago at 6d.

The effect of this increasing competition was completely to alter the agriculture of the East. Grain of all kinds was grown in greatly diminished quantity, and the farmers took to dairy produce, or hay and vegetables, for the neighbouring towns. If we confine our attention to a single state, the nature of the changes will best be understood. The state of Massachusetts keeps its statistical returns with care, and may therefore be used as an illustration, though its soil is poor, and its agriculture does not rank high. The first pressure of competition effected a reduction in the size of farms. The sons of the farmer had left him, and the wages of labourers were high, so that a farm could not be larger than was needful for efficient production. The average size of a Massachusetts farm at the present time is 76 acres, and its average value 4,100 dollars, or 820l. The prices of land per acre, at the last census, were estimated at

[blocks in formation]

These prices refer to agricultural land, and not to town plots.

As a dollar is about four shillings, it will be seen that improved farms can be bought for between iol. and ul. an acre. The first effect of the competition was largely to reduce the amount of corn crops, and to substitute other produce which the neighbouring towns demanded in a fresh condition. We may compare two of these products to show the nature of the changes between 1865 and 1875

Produce of milk, in gallons .
Beef products, in pounds

1865 10,079,180 70,825,396

1875 35,698,159 12,258,542

The dairy interest is thus increasing, while the feeding of cattle is decreasing. But the refrigerating cars coming from the far West enabled the butter of Iowa and the cheese of Wisconsin to compete with the dairy products even of Vermont and New York. In the New England markets there is little of home-made flour. The flour which is chiefly sold is from the wheat of Minnesota and Missouri. Even for the fattening of cattle there is not much home-grown Indian corn, for it is grown cheaper and better in Indiana and Illinois. The beef comes from cattle bred upon the vast plains of Texas or the parks of Colorado, fattened perhaps on the banks of the Mississippi, and sent over by train, either in a live state or killed and dressed at Chicago. Even sheep are now pushed aside by mutton from Nebraska, while poultry comes in considerable quantity from Ohio and Michigan. With this constant competition on all sides, the individual farmers who could not adapt themselves to the economic changes had a bad time. ' Many of them succumbed, and their farms passed into other hands. of agricultural produce to the state has not diminished. Between 1865 and 1875 the aggregate value of agricultural produce has increased by 16

per cent. This will be seen if we take the value in Massachusetts :



Domestic products .

3,678,087 6,319,696
Agricultural products


30,753,388 It will be seen that even agricultural products have increased in value. Under the influence of the keen competition, every kind of produce has been grown in better quantities, though even now it will not appear large to English farmers. The produce per acre in bushels for the years 1865 and 1875 is given in the following table :

1865 1875 Barley


2510 Indian Corn


351 Oats

215 31 Barley


25 Wheat

153 Beet

193 244 Potatoes




The dairy produce increased also largely as the effect of competition. The number of cows has not been much augmented, but their produce has, though it is far from what it should be. The average annual produce of a cow on an ordinary farm is probably not greater than about 1,600 to 1,700 quarts of milk, yielding between 130 and 140 lbs. of butter. But good Jerseys are now becoming prevalent, and the belief is expressed that it requires a cow to yield at least from 1,800 to 2,000 quarts to meet the competition from without. The Jerseys and the Ayrshires have taught the farmers to look for higher averages still. The Americans are great eaters of butter, and a home market is always open for it. Their consumption of butter is between fifteen and sixteen pounds in the year. Nevertheless, from the system of 'creameries '—the factory system of making butter and cheese—the far West even now delivers these articles in a more uniform and prime condition than the home farms. The arrangements for transport, in refrigerating cars, of the butter and cheese of distant regions, are, in fact, so much more complete than those in the same state, that it is not an unfrequent circumstance to find the Western products fresher and in better condition than similar materials from adjoining localities.

From the dry facts which I have indicated, it will be apparent that the competition of the West with the East has been severely felt even in America. The years of depression, from 1874 to 1879, caused serious changes in the price of land, and ruined many farmers who had borrowed money under the former high valuations, and who were unable to pay the interest of their mortgages. But, in this respect, farming land only shared in the general depreciation of real estate all over the United States. Had the competition of the West not

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »